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Posted on Feb 2nd 2011 at 05:00:00 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Atari, Tapper, 2600, Game Review, Classic Gaming

TAPPER



Specs:

Game:  Tapper
Year:  1984
Publisher:  Sega
Developer: Bally-Midway Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Designer(s): Marvin Glass
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 6 = rare+
Controls: Joystick
Number of Players: 1 - 2 (turn based)
Average Cost: currently, usually $10 - $30 loose, depending on condition
Also Available On: Arcade cabinet, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, PC, Mobile phone, Xbox 360 (XBLA); also released in the compilation "Midway Arcade Treasures" for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and the PC.

Tagline/Description:
"Side-splitting, soda-flinging laughs and spills!
The Official Home Version of Bally/Midway's Arcade Sensation. 
Five belly-busting screens of Soda Fountain Fun, including:
-- Four mad-capped barrooms of soda-starved, clamoring cowboys, sports fans, punks, and space creatures.
-- Plus a head-spinning Soda Bandit Bonus Round
Awesome color-packed action graphics.
Just try to keep your cool as hot-headed, crazy customers blitz your bar for another cold one."

In Tapper, you control a beer tapper (bartender) and have to serve beer to demanding customers. Customers shuffle up the four bars toward your beer taps and you must slide them drinks in order to keep them satisfied and make them go away.  You start out with 5 lives and these lives are lost as follows:  (1) if a bar patron reaches the end of the bar without receiving their beer, (2) if you slide an extra beer when there is no customer and accidentally spill beer needlessly, and (3) if a patron throws you back an empty mug and you fail to catch it.  You can score additional points by competing in a bonus round between every few stages.  In these bonus rounds, a masked bandit creeps into the bar and shakes up all but one, of six available cans.  The cans then flip around in a shell-game fashion and you must keep your eye on the one that was not shaken.  You then select the can you deem undisturbed and the bartender opens it; if you are correct, you are awarded bonus points, if you are wrong, the tapper receives a heady bath.

Tapper was originally a coin-op machine marketed in conjunction with Budweiser and intended to be sold only to bars; many of the cabinets were designed to look like bars with a brass rail footrest and drink holders. The controller was designed to look like the tap handles on a real keg (see photos below).  It's also rumored that digitized belches were also recorded, but never used.  In order to broaden their target market (and to not lure the kiddies toward the "sauce"), Bally/Midway created coin-op cabinets and tabletops known as Root Beer Tapper.  The Atari 2600 version is simply called Tapper, which apparently leaves it up to the consumer, or pre-video game advisory warning parents, to determine which frothy beverage bar patrons are actually chugging in game.  However, in between clearing a few stages there is a bonus stage, brought to you courtesy of your good friends at Mountain Dew.  It's not clear whether or not Tapper on the 2600 was trying to "C.I.A." by employing the soda company's logo, but by doing so, the ad's presence resulted in one of the earliest examples of marketing within a video game.



Tapper is a great game and probably one of the best ports to the Atari 2600.  Not only is the concept original and the gameplay simple and attractive, but the sound effects and music (yes, actual music on a 2600 game) are wild west saloon-like and second to none.  The graphics are as good as they can be due to the limitations of the system and all characters and settings are well defined and recognizable.  My only real knock on this game is the controls.  You use the joystick to move the tapper up and down, while using the orange button to fire off brewskies.  Like many other 2600 games, Tapper is hampered by the rough and often rigorous directional tapping of the joystick.  Because the action is so fast paced, and gets even quicker as you progress through multiple stages, the 2600 joystick cannot keep up and it often results in a few misfired mugs.  One would do well in achieving higher scores by obtaining a European CX78 controller and popping this game into the ole 7800. 

Even though the controls can be a bit sticky, Tapper is still one of the best games for the 2600.  Though the rarity and price point make it a harder game to come by, you can easily snag a loose copy at a good deal with a last minute, no reserve auction bid.  No matter what price you pay due to condition or completeness, Tapper will be one of those games that you will be proud to own.



**video courtesy of Hairman9252

RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):

Controls: 2
Graphics: 4
Sound Effects/Music: 4
Concept: 4
Replay Value: 3
Cart/Box Art:  4
Overall Score: 3.50



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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